School is back in session, only had two days worth of it this week but we were at open houses two other nights as well. I think the kids are going to really enjoy school this year, AnnaBeth started Kindergarten and ended up getting the teacher we hoped that she would get, who just happens to be a friend and was asking for her in her class, I hope she feels the same after the year is over. Gabby is starting 6th grade and moved to a new school. Should be a great chance for her to make a fresh start and meet some new friends to compliment the old ones. Me, I’m just wrestling with being older. Every year they gain a year in school, I just feel that much older. I’ll be 55 by the time AnnaBeth graduates from high school, excuse me while I go fix a drink.
But enough sentimentality, it’s the games that everyone is here to hear about, so the games are what we are going to talk about.
Monday evening was a meetup night for the game group and six of us showed up again. But instead of playing all games that can hold six players we split up and four played a game of Transylvania: Curses and Traitors and myself and Mike set off to decide who really won the cold war. Yup, I took the plunge and tried out Twilight Struggle again, well, technically the first time. I purchased a 2nd edition copy awhile back and played it single player to learn it and did not really enjoy it or see any need to keep it around, but Mike had been talking it up around me so I finally told him that we were going to sit down and I was going to re-learn it and play it out. I was the Soviet Union side and Mike took the United States side. After some explanation, probably about 30 minutes or so worth, we were off. I jumped out trying to blockade as much of Eastern Europe as I could and since we were playing with the China card in hand, I went ahead and spread some influence in Asia as well. My hand worked well for me that first round, Mike’s did not, he struggled to get a footing anywhere. Second round was kind of the same, but Mike had some better cards and made some moves, but I got a couple score cards out that round that benefited me more than him. Third round ended up with Mike having all three scoring cards if I am not mistaken and while he outscored me by five in Europe, he did not fare that well in the Middle East or Asia and by the time the 4th round started I believe I was sitting at 17 or 18 points. Then through some card play and Mike forgetting about the military force, I managed to limp in with another 3 points to win the game at the end of the 4th round. It was a really entertaining game, mostly because I ran away with it, but still far more fun than I gave it credit for after that first play on my own. I do still have issues with it, it wouldn’t be in my Top 20 of games, nor do I see the merit in calling it the greatest board game around, but I have softened in my stance a bit. The cards, while they serve multiple purposes and can be used for different effects, they can really hinder you if you don’t get the right ones, and I think this play showcased this quite a bit, Mike isn’t a rookie Twilight Struggle player, he’s played many games, but yet, he just could not build momentum because of the draws he ended up with 2 out of the 4 rounds, predominately holding cards that benefitted my side. There are dice involved which doesn’t make sense to me in a game like this. Mike missed a couple Space Race rolls if I am not mistaken and I had him stuck in a Quagmire for 3 of his turns in the 3rd or 4th round, I forget which. Those dice rolls just plain hurt him and rendered him helpless for that portion of the game. Now, I still think that Mike, regardless of what he said, was going a bit “easy” on me, I don’t think he was going for the jugular so to speak, but he swears that he played it straight up, so who knows. I enjoyed the game, it made for a different experience than what I normally have at game night. It was thinky, I had to constantly be thinking about what I was going to use my cards for and where, I like that. I like the history of the game, although The Cold War is not my favorite historical era to study. I’ll play it again, I’ll even pick up the app once it drops on PC, but I don’t feel any compulsive need to own it again, which is weird for me considering some of the games that I feel the need to own.
That was it for my game night, the others played a game of Roll for the Galaxy while Mike and I talked to Brad a bit about getting an Imperial Assault game up and running sometime in the future. Would love to get a regular Saturday morning group to run through it, both because I want to play it and also just because I know Brad really wants to play his copy as well. I thought about setting up Firenze to play a bit but I didn’t want to rush a play to get finished before the end of the night so we watched the end of Roll for the Galaxy, packed up and called it an evening. A quite enjoyable one at that.
Nothing else had hit the table this week until Saturday when Kerensa and I got a couple of new two player games in. First to hit the table was Targi. I’ve been looking forward to picking up and trying Targi for a while now, and I finally managed to land a copy via the leftovers math trade over on Board Game Geek. Targi is a two player only worker placement game. The board is modular, well modular except for the border cards. You have 16 cards that you set up in a specific order around the outside edge of the board, creating a frame, then on the inside you have a board of 3x3 of cards that are constantly changing. Each player has 3 Targi to use, in alternating turn order the players take turns placing their Targi. Rules are you can only place the Targi on an outside border card, you cannot place a Targi on a card that is opposite one of your opponent, you cannot place one on the corner “raid” card and you cannot place more than one Targi on a card or on the space where the “robber” sits. After both players have placed their three Targi the players mark the intersecting spot on the inside of the board, most of the time that will be two spots. Players in turn order then play out the actions on the cards that they have placed their Targi and markers on in any order. There are two types of cards in the center, Goods cards or Tribe cards. Goods can give you one of the three good types, Pepper, salt or dates and Tribe cards can be purchased using money and goods and then placed into your 3 by 4 tableau that you build. As cards in the middle are used, they are replaced with an opposite card type, meaning if you use a good card, you immediately replace it with a tribe card. The tribe cards can give permanent bonuses during the game or victory point bonuses at the end of the game. The game ends when a player finishes their 3 by 4 tableau of Tribe cards or when the Robber has moved completely around the board and enacts the final raid action. The player with the most victory points wins.
I really enjoyed Targi, I love the intersecting points being the actions you take in the middle along with the permanent actions on the border cards. I had some issues keeping enough goods to buy the right kind of Tribe cards, it seemed that there was always something in the same row or column that Kerensa was wanting so she would either get there before me or place something that made sure I couldn’t get the spot I wanted, which in turn made the Fata Morgana card all that more important, it allows you to move one of your middle pieces to another unoccupied card instead of using the action it is sitting on. The bonus points in your tableau for building a row of four of a kind(4 pts) or four different(2 pts) are really important and I think I may have concentrated a bit too hard on getting all the same, I did succeed on one row, but the other two remained incomplete. Kerensa on the other hand had one row of same and one row of four different and thus she had the win, by one point. I look forward to playing this one again soon as I think, just judging from one play mind you, that it could have some legs and be a nice option for Kerensa and I on nights where it’s just us playing.
We followed Targi up with another new to us two player game, Akrotiri. I’m not going to go into too much detail about Akrotiri, as our play was kind of funky. Funky due to interruptions, dinner and other things that ended up making us take approximately 2 ½ hours to finish it. Akrotiri seems like one of those games that could scratch our itches quite well, being that it’s a tile placement/map building game that uses action points that increase as you play the game, you start out with 3 actions per turn and end up with 6 per turn, so the game just keeps building in intensity as it goes. But, that can also lead to some long turns, especially when you are being distracted by outside forces. So I want to give it another chance before I give it a review, as I think it’s a good game and that first play just didn’t click with me due to those circumstances. Oh, and Kerensa won, well she kicked my butt is what she did, 44-27. But I think she kind of agrees that we should play it again before giving too much of our thoughts on it.
So, that’s it other than Star Realms on iOS which has kind of ground to a halt, I lost another league matchup, this one horribly, but I also won a close one. I ended up the week still at Level 9 5/10. I just can’t string together wins to get over that hump and it’s irritating me, but as I’ve said before, a 500 player like me probably is going to hit that wall sooner or later and not be able to get over it, was just hoping it wouldn’t happen yet, was hoping for another level or two. Keep the challenges coming to Vacabck, I’ll keep accepting and playing! Thanks for the matchups to everyone who challenged me this week!!
Before we get to everything else on the podcast we’ve got a special guest reviewing a game this week. The game is Viceroy and the reviewer is Eric Booth. Eric comes to us from the fine state of North Carolina, home of The Gamer’s Armory and more than a couple fine podcasts like The Geek All Stars, The State of Games and Rolling Dice and Taking Names. Eric was an early listener to the show and helped me tremendously with trying to coach me on how to fix the audio on the show, even going so far as to offer to do a little bit of editing on it to show me how it’s done. But asides from that, Eric a pretty big gamer and one whose opinion I always love hearing, although until recently, that’s only been through our twitter interactions. So when he offered to do an audio review of Viceroy for the podcast I was absolutely thrilled. It just took a little prodding from me for it to actually happen and land here tonight. I hope you all enjoy!
Eric's review can be heard at 11:15 on the podcast.
Eric is the second person to join us on the podcast to do a guest review, Ray Shell from Instant Game Reviews joined us a couple weeks back with his review of Eminent Domain Microcosm back in Week 33. I hope everyone enjoys the guest reviews as I’d love to continue to have them on the show. So if you’ve got an idea for a review or even just a little segment talking about a topic you want to talk about, don’t hesitate to email me or shout at me on Twitter, I’d love to add more voices to the podcast to go along with my family’s, and I think that it’d only make the show stronger.
I do also hope that everyone enjoyed the interviews last week. I have a couple folks in mind that I’d still like to interview for “Meet the Gamer” type segments, but I think I may push the creator interviews a little bit as well and see if I can get a couple people to do some different interviews over the next month or so. I don’t want to make that the biggest focus on the podcast because to me that just makes this one just like every other podcast out there and I don’t want that, I still want this one to focus on the games that are hitting the table among my family and friends and yours.
Acquisitions Well, we already know two of the acquisitions this week because we played them this weekend, Targi and Akrotiri. But there is one more that headed my way in those trades, Tournay and one more via a BGG purchase Artifacts Inc. Tournay I have played one other time, a long time ago, and I enjoyed the game, but I mainly wanted to pick it up just because of my love for games from Xavier Georges and Sebastien DeJardin. Plus it looks perfect on the shelf with Troyes. Artifacts Inc looks and sounds like the game that I wish Machi Koro was plus it’s got that beautiful Ryan Laukat art. I just hope I can get it to the table sooner rather than later. There is at least one more game on the way this week, this one is bigger and meatier than the others but we’ll talk about that one, next week when I hopefully have it in hand.
Kickstarter Nothing new on Kickstarter this week, still backing Dingo’s Dreams and City of Iron. With seven days left to go on this campaign it is sitting at just shy of $42k which means that we’ve unlocked three of the five listed stretch goals and the next one does not hit until $60k. That stretch is kind of a neat and different reward. If the campaign hits $60k Ryan will do a video series over on Youtube documenting the creation of his next game, somewhere between 8 and 12 videos. Just knowing the artwork for his games, this would probably be something really cool to have available to watch. So check out the campaign and back it if it looks like something you would enjoy playing!
Also, be sure to check out the Button Shy Wallet Game Series on Kickstarter currently. It’s only got 5 days left on the campaign and has already gone 7 times over their funding goal for this one. This campaign features 3 “wallet sized” games from three different designers. From JR Honeycutt you get North, South, East, Quest, from Kenneth Thompson you get Fever Chill and from Chip Beauvais Smoke and Mirrors. The latter is a really interesting bluffing game where the players are competing magicians trying to outdo the competition. But who’s really doing the bigger trick? Is someone bluffing about what they are planning to do? We’ve enjoyed both Wild Cats and Cunning Folk, two previous games from this collection. They are fun, they are small and easily played just about anywhere and most of all they are fun. Just know, if you are playing Wild Cats with AnnaBeth, she’s always the Wild Cat.
September is going to be another hugely busy month for kickstarters so I hope that everyone has their wallet ready. There is some really good stuff coming, including GemPacked Cards, which we will have our preview up for on next week’s podcast right before it goes live on the 1st of September. We also just got our preview copy of Avalanche at Yeti Mountain from our friends at Green Couch Games and the designer whose initial Kickstarter success was the wonderfully themed Wombat Rescue, Matt Wolfe. I believe this one is slated to start September 1st as well, so we better get our butts in previewing gear! I don’t like to rush our previews but I do hope to have this one ready as well next week, fingers crossed for that, but barring that it will be ready the following week, hopefully in time to help them out with the campaign a little bit. After that we have one more on the horizon which I won’t talk about just yet, but I think the plan is for this one to launch towards the end of September and this one is a bit different from other Kickstarter games than we’ve previewed so be sure to stay tuned for that one as well! Other than what we’ll be previewing we have Gloomhaven on the horizon in early September along with a new expansion for Kings of Air and Steam. Then also towards the end of September you have Spirit Island from Greater than Games. See what I mean, packed to the gills with great looking games!!
Geeklist and Thread The Geeklist was once again three pages full of fantastic gaming thoughts and session reports and I kept up pretty well with you all this week, I just didn’t get a lot of chances to jump in and chat as I was helping with interviews at work and just being swamped here at home with back to school stuff, but I did manage to read everything everyone posted, one of these weeks I’ll be able to interact the way I used to, but until then just keep in mind that I am reading each entry and I know a lot of others are enjoying them as well. Bill, you inspired me to dig Morels out from under the pile of games that had covered it up, we didn’t get to play it but I’m sure we will again soon, I really have enjoyed that relaxing walk through the woods every time we have played it before and the funny thing is, out of nowhere you weren’t the only one who listed it this week since Evan and his wife got a play in as well. We got a Bloodrage sighting in this week. I expect this one to be a regular on the geeklist and forum thread once everyone gets their Kickstarter copies, it was getting entirely too much love at GenCon to not get a lot of attention. There are too many Codenames mentions in the list and thread, I’m going to have to ask everyone to quit taunting me with them until my pre-order finally shows up. Lots of good gaming and chatting going on in the thread as well, it always makes me happy to have two separate lists going talking about the same thing but with mostly completely different people. I still haven’t figured out why some folks prefer the geeklist and others prefer the thread. Keep it up folks, every week it brings a smile to a lot of folks to see what everyone else is playing and to be able to talk about the games a bit amongst other like minded folks!